The Supreme Court on Tuesday finally put paid to election petitions that have dogged Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, since he was declared winner of the state supplementary election in December, 2015.
In a unanimous judgment, Tuesday, by seven Supreme Court Justices led by Justice Sylvester Ngwata, the apex court upheld the judgments of both the Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal and that of the Appeal Court that had earlier dismissed the petitions filed by James Faleke and former Governor of the state, Idris Wada of Peoples Democratic Party (APC).
Before the final judgment, counsels to the parties made final submissions.
Counsel to Faleke, Alex Izinyon, had summed that votes cannot be transferred, urging the court to take cognisance of Section 141 of the Electoral Act court and marry it with Section 138 of the same Act.
He said Bello was neverl elected by majority of voters cast, and that Bello was a total stranger to the election process and needed to be removed. He thus asked the court to adopt his earlier argument.
Idris Wada’s counsel, Chris Uche said a candidate can only be regarded as having participated in an election if he takes full part in the entire process, saying, Bello only came in half way and therefore not properly elected Governor.
He argured that a party cannot just bring a person to inherit the votes of another person.
Uche argured that the substitution ought to take place before the commencement of the election and not midway.
However, in his submission , Bello’s counsel, Joseph Daudu , asked the court to dismiss all the applications before it.
Daudu argued that APC and the candidate it chooses has the right to inherit all what was owned by the late Abubakar Audu, saying it is the Election Tribunal that exercises the right to decide whether a person has participated in an election or not.
Citing Section 221 of the constitution, Daudu said it is a political party that contests elections and not an individual.
Supporting Daudu argument, Akin Olujimi, representing APC says Section 33 of the Electoral Act allows a party to substitute a dead candidate.
However, listening to the submissions by the counsels, the Judges rose for a break only to come back and affirmed Bello duly elected Governor of Kogi.in unanimous judgment.
The apex court said it would adduced reasons for its stance concerning the judgment on September 30.